By: Anna Lou Pickett, Marilyn Likins, and Teri Wallace
"This is the 7th in a series of State of the Art Reports published by the National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals in Education and Related Services (NRCP). Over the last three decades the series has provided snapshots of how federal, state and local education agencies have addressed issues that influence the roles, preparation and supervision of paraeducators." (from the Introduction)
Download the entire State of the Art Document
By: Anna Lou Pickett, Marilyn Likins, and Teri Wallace
"This is the 7th in a series of State of the Art Reports published by the National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals in Education and Related Services (NRCP). Over the last three decades the series has provided snapshots of how federal, state and local education agencies have addressed issues that influence the roles, preparation and supervision of paraeducators." (from the Introduction)
Download the entire State of the Art Document
The purpose of this report is to provide policymakers and administrators in SEAs, LEAs, IHEs and other stakeholders with information they can build on as they work together to address issues and practices that currently impact on the employment, roles, training/education, and supervision of paraeducators: The newest but least understood members of education and related services teams.
The report is divided into four parts. Part I provides an historical overview of the factors that initially led to the employment of paraeducators. It continues with a look at education reform initiatives that have contributed to the need to prepare teachers to supervise and work effectively with paraeducators. Part II describes contemporary concerns and events that have brought about increased reliance on paraeducators with greater emphasis on their learner support roles. Part III centers on federal legislative actions, policy questions, and systemic issues requiring cooperation among agencies in different jurisdictions with different responsibilities for ensuring the availability of an effectively supervised, well-prepared paraeducator workforce. Part IV discusses strategies policy makers and administrators in SEAs, LEAs, other education provider agencies, and IHEs can build on to overcome barriers to improving the performance and productivity of teacher and paraeducator teams. It concludes with a series of appendices.
To assist those of you concerned with creating and maintaining policies and systems to more effectively tap the resources of paraeducators, the report starts with an overview of events and trends, including education reform efforts that have caused administrators to employ in growing numbers, paraeducators (teacher aides, paraprofessionals), to support the program and administrative functions of teachers.
In the mid-1950s, a need to alleviate post WW II shortages of licensed teachers and the fledgling efforts of parents to develop community based services for children and adults with disabilities stimulated interest in the employment of teacher aides. During this period, two research projects were undertaken to assess the appropriateness of employing teacher aides as one way to provide teachers with more time to plan and carry out instructional activities. The first, sponsored by the Ford Foundation, took place in the Bay City, Michigan schools. College educated women who were not licensed teachers were recruited and trained to perform clerical, monitoring, and other routine classroom tasks (Fund for the Advancement of Education, 1961). At about the same time, Cruickshank and Haring (1957) documented a project conducted at Syracuse University designed to evaluate the efficacy of utilizing teacher aides/assistants in the special education programs that were beginning to emerge across the country. Although the results of both projects showed promise, it was not until the late 1960s and early 1970s that the potential benefits of employing teacher aides to work along side teachers in both general and special education would be more fully tested (Gartner, 1971; Kaplan, 1977).
In the 1960s and 1970s demands from many constituencies for change in economic, social, health care, education and other human services systems led to federal legislation that established and supported instructional and other direct services for learners who came from educationally and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Many of the programs created by Congress to provide these services, including, Title I and Head Start, provided funding for schools and other community organizations to employ and train paraprofessionals. In the mid 1970s parents and other advocates for the rights of children and youth with disabilities achieved one of their major goals with the passage of PL 94-142, the landmark Education for all Handicapped Children Act, now titled the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
At the heart of each of these laws was a recognition of the importance of learner centered instructional services to meet the needs of children and youth with diverse abilities, learning preferences, and other education needs -- although only PL 94-142 specifically mandated individualized education plans. As a result of the need to provide teachers in pre-school, general, compensatory and special education with the support they required to provide individualized/ personalized education services for all learners who could benefit from them, the employment of paraprofessionals began to gain momentum and significant changes began to occur in their roles and responsibilities. While they still performed routine monitoring, clerical, and housekeeping tasks, paraprofessionals increasingly reviewed and reinforced lessons and assisted students with other learning activities initiated by teachers (Bowman & Klopf, 1967; Jackson &Acosta, 1971; Pickett, 1989). Paraprofessionals who shared the cultures, traditions, and language backgrounds of learners and their families served as liaisons between schools and homes as one way of reducing an emerging lack of confidence between the two (Gartner & Riessman, 1974).
At the same time that paraprofessional employment was expanding, there was also a growing recognition of the need to reduce obstacles that prevented people from multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and multi-lingual heritages from entering the professional ranks. Then, as now, paraprofessionals were primarily women who were (re) entering the workforce, who lived near the schools where they worked, and who represented the cultural and ethnic populations in their community (Kaplan, 1977; Haselkorn & Fideler, 1996). Throughout the 1960s and 1970s the federal government played a key role in supporting and providing access to teacher education for paraprofessionals and other non-traditional students. In his comprehensive report From Aide to Teacher: The Story of the Career Opportunities Program (COP) George Kaplan (1977) described the results of a seven-year project supported by the U.S. Office of Education. The most significant goal of COP was to a) develop flexible degree programs that would not diminish the quality of teacher preparation programs, and b) would attract and support "teacher aides" in low income urban and rural areas who wanted to enter the professional ranks, but needed to work full time while they earned academic degrees. LEAs recruited talented and committed paraprofessionals and other employees they felt could contribute to improving the quality of their communityís schools. IHEs scheduled under-graduate courses to accommodate worker-student needs, tutored candidates for high school equivalency tests, provided intensive academic counseling to help students navigate college bureaucracies, conducted study groups to help reinforce learning, and offered classes off campus near studentsí homes.
Kaplanís analysis of the various components of COP found that although it proved to be an effective approach for recruiting and preparing more than 20,000 non-traditional students from under-represented racial, cultural and linguistic backgrounds to enter education professions, when the federal funding ended, the majority of these programs also ended. Currently we are seeing a resurgence of interest among teacher educators in the recruitment of paraeducators, and many of the lessons learned through COP are serving as a foundation for contemporary teacher preparation programs (Haselkorn & Fideler, 1996).
At the same time that LEAs and IHEs nationwide were actively engaged in developing the COP models, a few SEAs began to develop credentialing procedures that established criteria for paraprofessional employment and preparation. The states that developed paraprofessional credentialing systems in the late 1960s and 1970s were Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Vermont, and Wisconsin. With the exception of Kansas, these credentialing systems were more administrative than regulatory in nature. As a result, they were not mandatory and, therefore LEAs were not required to train paraeducators or employ individuals who could meet the criteria set by the SEA. They did, however, provide standards for LEAs to voluntarily follow if they decided to create opportunities for career advancement through different levels of paraprofessional positions. Rather than develop credentialing systems, the remaining states chose to establish guidelines that outlined duties for paraprofessionals and placed the responsibility of setting standards for paraprofessional employment, roles, training and supervision with LEAs. Moreover, with the exception of Kansas, no states provided technical assistance or financial resources to support the development of systematic training for paraprofessionals (Fafard, 1974; Pickett, 1989.)
In addition, despite the increased participation of paraprofessionals in all phases of the instructional process, only minimal references were made to teacher supervisory roles in state policies, regulatory procedures, and standards e.g. "teacher aides work under the direction of licensed/certificated teachers". Of even greater significance was the practice established by an overwhelming majority of LEAs of designating principals as the supervisors of paraprofessionals; indeed this practice is still part of most contractual agreements or administrative guidelines in todayís schools. As a result the roles of teachers as planners, directors, and monitors of the day-to-day activities of paraprofessionals were not recognized and they were not prepared for these supervisory responsibilities--a practice that continues today (Pickett, 2003).
The decade of the 1980s was a time of vigorous debate about how to end a perceived decline in the quality of education services throughout the United States. Reports issued by governmental agencies, IHEs, and other stakeholders in the private and public sectors were concerned with the need for significant reform in education policies and practices. Initially these concerns centered on two issues: 1) the need for higher standards for learner performance and increased teacher accountability for learning outcomes, and 2) the need to attract and prepare a highly competent teaching force (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983). Later in the decade advocates for better schools added other items to the reform agenda. They were connected to a growing realization that by enabling school staff and parents to participate in identifying the learning needs of the children and youth in "their schools" and deciding which programs would best meet identified learner needs the performance and the quality of education could be improved. As a result, leaders in education reform movements began to reassess the practice of governing schools from central offices, and the concept of creating opportunities for site based management began to take shape (Bauch and Goldring, 1998; Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy, 1987; Pipho, 2000). The efforts that began in the 1980s laid the groundwork for contemporary activities to strengthen the team leadership and program development roles of teachers. For the most part however the need for differentiated staffing arrangements to support and enable teachers to carry out new, more complex program and administrative functions has been ignored. The failure of these initiatives to recognize the growing reliance on paraeducators has contributed to a lack of understanding of the need to prepare teachers for their expanding roles as supervisors of paraeducators. In fact, throughout the 1980ís, only the National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals (NRCP), a collaborative effort between the Nebraska Department of Education and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and to a limited extent the Council for Exceptional Children were urging SEAs, LEAs, and IHEs to establish standards and develop curriculum content to prepare teachers to plan for, direct, and monitor the day to day activities of paraeducators. Initially these efforts focused on special education programs, and did not recognize the need to prepare teachers in Title I or other programs and disciplines for their supervisory roles (Heller & Pickett, 1981; Pickett, 1981; Pickett, 1986; Vasa & Steckleberg, 1987.) It was not until the early 1990s that a few more IHEs began to follow the lead of the Department of Education and Communication Disorders at the University of Nebraska, and added curriculum content to their programs to prepare teachers to supervise paraeducators. (Lindemann & Beegle, 1988; Salzberg & Morgan, 1995; Pickett, Vasa & Steckelberg, 1993).
Moreover, limited federal support for paraprofessional preparation during the 1980s, was another factor that led to a decline in interest in the broad range of issues that influenced the performance of teacher and paraprofessional teams in the delivery of instructional and other direct services. Thus career development programs for paraeducators that began in the 1970s had all but disappeared or had not been changed to reflect the evolving roles of both teachers and paraeducators. So by the close of the decade of the ë80s, paraeducators had become the "forgotten members of education teams" (Pickett, 1994, p. 2).
Determining the number of paraeducators employed by LEAs and the programs they are assigned to is not an exact science. Federal and state agencies concerned with the delivery of education services in different program areas use different approaches to data collection. Thus the data collected does not always provide a clear picture of how many full time equivalency (FTE) positions for paraeducator exist in our nationís schools or the programs they are assigned to (general and special education, Title I and other compensatory or remedial programs, multi lingual and ESL programs, early childhood and transition services programs). A report published by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in 2000 Non-professional Staff in the Schools and Staffing Survey(SASS)and Common Core of Data (CCD,Working Paper No. 2000-13 acknowledges that limited information is available on education support staff (teacher, library, computer laboratory aides or assistants, secretaries, bus drives, custodians).
Depending on the mission of a federal agency and its reporting mechanisms there may be a lag time of six to eight years before relevant data is available to stakeholders who can benefit from them. Moreover no single federal agency gathers and maintains data about paraeducators who assist teachers in the broad range of programs that provide instructional and other direct services for learners or their families. The following are examples of how data is collected and reported by different federal agencies.
Information published in the NCES Working Paper 2000-13 provided a comparison of data collected during the 1993-94 school year about teacher aides employed in programs including Chapter I, other instructional programs that were not specified, and library and media centers. In 1993-94 there were approximately 319,000 full time and 151,000 part time teacher aides other than Chapter I aides working in the nationís schools, and 96,000 Chapter I aides. (Although the NCES survey intended to count the Chapter I aides as a separate category, the paper indicates that it is possible that some or all of the Chapter I aides were also counted in the teacher aides category.) There were an additional 32,000 full time and 23,000 part time library and media center aides. These data did not identify the number of paraeducators employed in multi-lingual or special education programs. In 1999 another agency, the USDE Planning and Evaluation Service, reported that there were approximately 76,900 fulltime Title I paraeducators, however there was no indication of the number of paraeducators assigned to special education, multi-lingual and other compensatory programs.
The Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2000-01 published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an operating office of the U.S. Department of Labor, presents another picture of the number of paraeducators working in public and private schools, and early childhood education. According to self-reported data there are about 1.2 million teacher aides and assistants employed in these three settings. The paraeducators who provided the data reported that they are employed primarily in elementary and early childhood programs including day care centers. The Handbook also reports that a "significant number" of the paraeducators are assigned to special education (beyond that these data do not identify specific program areas where paraeducators work).
In some cases, the instruments used by the Federal agencies to collect the data can add to an already confusing state of affairs. For example, data collected by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS), U.S.D.E. asks states for information on the number of "teacher aides" who are either certified or uncertified. Respondents to this question overwhelmingly report that the majority of "teacher aides" in their state are certified, even though the vast majority of the states do not have certification/licensure systems for paraeducators, teacher aides/assistants, transitional or early childhood assistants.
Although paraeducators are employed in different categorical areas of special education OSERS does not collect data on the number of aides or assistants who are assigned to work one-to-one with individual learners in self contained classrooms or to facilitate inclusion into general education programs, those who are assigned to transition services programs, those who work in self-contained or resource classrooms, and those who are assigned to early childhood programs. Currently the total number of teacher aides reported by OSERS to be providing services to children and youth with disabilities or other special needs, ages 3-21 totals approximately 250,000. Paraprofessionals assigned to early intervention programs serving infants, toddlers and their parents/caregivers are the only category reported separately, and that number is approximately 3500 (Annual Report to Congress, 2000).
In an effort to gain a more accurate picture of the programs and working environments where paraeducators are assigned, as well as SEA policies and regulatory procedures that impact on their roles, supervision and preparation, the National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals in Education and related Services (NRCP) periodically conducts surveys of Chief State School Officers (CSSOs) in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Territories, the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).
On the surface it would appear that this should be a fairly easy task to accomplish. In reality it is not. First, most states collect data only about paraeducators assigned to programs receiving federal funds and keep the information in separate data bases rather than maintaining a central data bank about the numbers of paraeducators employed in all programs administered by LEAs; many states do not gather information on paraeducators who provide instructional services or work in libraries and media centers who are usually supported by local tax levy funds (in some cases they provided estimated numbers). Second, finding a single individual in an SEA who can provide data on the numbers of paraeducators employed in the state and who is also aware of state laws, written policies, and regulatory procedures can be a daunting chore. Indeed over the last three decades, in many cases, the person completing the survey has reported that the state does not have policies, guidelines or a credentialing system for paraeducators, even though the authors know that they exist.
The research questions in the most recent survey conducted by the NRCP were designed to gather the following information:
All fifty states, the District of Columbia, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Guam, American Samoa, and the Department of Defense responded to the NRCP survey. The survey was initiated in the 1999-2000 school year and was completed in 2001using follow up phone calls or re-sending surveys to individuals we had identified in a state who could provide more complete information. Even so the information provided by many states is not complete and thus is only approximate.
The results of the survey with regard to paraeducator employment contained the following information. There are more than 525,000 paraeducators currently employed in FTE positions nationwide. Of that number approximately 290,000 are employed in inclusive general and special education programs, self-contained and resource rooms, transition services and early childhood settings serving children and youth with disabilities. (One critical piece of information that is very difficult to obtain are the number of paraeducators who are assigned to work one-to-one with individual learners). Approximately 130,000 paraeducators are assigned to multi-lingual, Title I or other compensatory programs. The remainder work in pre-school and elementary classrooms and other learning environments including libraries, media centers, and computer laboratories. Again it is important to stress that all of these numbers are only approximate, because most states do not maintain central data bases, some gather only data required by federal programs, and some states report that the data are not available by program areas.
While the data gathered by the NRCP provide an incomplete picture of paraeducator employment across the country, they do help to identify the gaps in information that make it difficult for federal policy makers and administrative agencies, SEAs, LEAs, IHEs, and other stakeholders to identify and set appropriate standards for paraeducator employment, roles, supervision, and of critical importance, to create viable systems for the preparation of a well trained and appropriately supervised paraeducator workforce. To facilitate the development of standards and systems and build on the resources of different stakeholders, SEAs need to systematically gather and maintain information about the number of paraeducators employed in all education and related services agencies as well as the program areas and grade levels where they are assigned. In addition Federal agencies and law makers should encourage and provide incentives to states to gather this information.
Without the availability of accurate, up-to-date information, state and local needs cannot be determined, priorities cannot be established and systems cannot be developed; and in far too many cases, legislative and administrative actions are taken without complete knowledge and understanding of the needs and issues that impact on the performance of teacher and paraeducator teams.
Increased reliance on paraeducators with greater emphasis on their instructional and learner support roles has not resulted in the development of policies and systems to improve their performance, supervision, and preparation; in many states where they do exist, written policies, regulatory procedures, and administrative practices have not been evaluated and revised since they were established in the 1960s and 1970s.
The continuing efforts of the NRCP and the work of other investigators indicate, that in addition to establishing a central database with employment and deployment information about all paraeducators, there are other critical issues requiring the attention of policy makers and SEA administrators working in concert with LEAs, personnel developers in IHEs, professional organizations, unions, parents, and other advocates for better schools. These issues are connected with the fact that while the majority of paraeducators spend all or part of their time assisting teachers, early childhood educators, and transition specialists in the instructional process they are rarely adequately trained to carry out their assigned tasks (Blaylock, 1991; Downing, Ryndak, & Clark, 2000; Fafard, 1974; Killoran, et al, 2001; Miromontes, 1990; Moshoyannis et al, 1999; Pickett, 1999; Passaro, Pickett, Lathem & Hongbo, 1994; Riggs & Mueller, 2001; Rogan & Held, 2000; Rueda & Monzo, 2000; Snodgrass, 1991).
Analysis of the most recent NRCP survey of CSSOs and a comparison with earlier surveys provides ample evidence of why it is so important for SEAs to join forces with other stakeholders to address issues that influence the performance of teachers and paraeducator teams. They can be summarized as follows:
In response to these and other issues that impact the quality of education for all learners, Congress has amended both the IDEA, 1997 and NCLB Act, 2001 to include significant provisions that acknowledge the evolving roles of teachers and paraeducators as members of instructional teams. The amendments to these two federal laws call for higher standards for paraeducator preparation, improved supervision of paraeducators and opportunities for career development for paraeducators.
The 1997 reauthorization of IDEA was the first federal legislation to proactively recognize the critical need to prepare paraeducators to assist with the delivery of special education services and the need to prepare teachers for their emerging supervisory roles. This is reflected in provisions that allow LEAs to employ paraprofessionals and assistants who are appropriately trained and supervised in compliance with state laws, regulations, or written policy to assist with the provision of special education and related services for school age children and youth with disabilities (Part B, section 612 [a]). Part C (section 635[a]) is concerned with personnel who work with infants and toddlers and their families and mandates the preparation of professionals and paraprofessionals in areas of early intervention with the content knowledge and collaborative skills needed to meet the needs of infants and toddlers with disabilities in accordance with state approved or recognized certification, licensure, or regulations.
Amendments that are destined to have an even a greater impact on paraeducator preparation, roles and supervision have been made to Title I of the NCLB Act of 2001. The amendments set standards for the employment, preparation, and assessment of paraeducators, specify duties that may be performed by paraprofessionals, and require paraprofessionals who provide instructional services to be supervised by credentialed teachers. Although the amendments require paraprofessionals to work under the direction of teachers they do not require SEAs to set standards for preparing teachers for their roles in planning for, directing and monitoring paraprofessionals. There are amendments to several Titles throughout the bill that address paraprofessional roles and training. The most significant are found in Section 1119 in Title I. They address qualifications for teachers and paraprofessionals. (Note throughout this section we use the term paraprofessional, rather than paraeducator because that is the term used in the NCLB Act.)
Subsection (1)(c) requires LEAs receiving assistance under this part of the No Child Left Behind Act to ensure that all new paraprofessionals or those employed prior to January 8, 2001 who work in positions funded by Title I have:
In addition all new paraprofessionals employed after January 8, 2002 in programs funded by Title I must:
Subsection (1) (d) requires LEAs to ensure that all currently employed paraprofessionals shall:
Subsection (1)(g) specifies duties paraprofessionals may be assigned. They may:
Subsection (1)(g) also addresses supervision of paraprofessionals:
SEAs have started to develop standards and procedures to meet the requirements of NCLB Act. Many of them are taking a big deep breath, stepping back and initiating a very thoughtful approach to establishing the standards and infrastructures. There is reason, however for concern about what the final outcomes will be in many states that are rushing to get something on the books to meet the objectives of the legislation; thus raising the possibility that systems will be put into place that will still be highly parochial, will not recognize the similarities in the roles of paraeducators working in all programs administered by LEAs, will not be competency based, and will not facilitate career advancement for paraeducators.
Other concerns are linked to the development of the academic assessment instruments required by NCLB. Will the academic assessments adequately reflect the ability of paraeducators to provide instruction in reading, mathematics, and writing, and reading readiness, mathematic readiness, and writing readiness? Will SEAs or LEAs develop and recognize other standardized methods that will enable paraeducators to demonstrate competence to assist teachers to carryout instructional activities. Still other unanswered questions center on how the exemptions from meeting education standards for paraeducators who provide instructional services will impact on paraeducators who assist parents and those who provide translation services. How will these exemptions impact on their continuing employment, on opportunities for career advancement, the development of standards for the skill and knowledge competencies they require to assist parents, learners, and teachers?
At the present time Congress and OSERS have started the process of amending IDEA. Work on the reauthorization process is scheduled for completion sometime in 2003. While we cannot predict what the final outcomes of the Congressional debate will be, there are indications that the requirements for paraeducator roles, supervision and preparation will be the same or similar to those established by the NCLB Act of 2001.
Commitments have been made at the federal, state and local levels to improve the quality of instruction and other education services for all learners and their families. On the surface the provisions in IDEA, 1997 and ESEA, 2001 would seem to be hopeful signs that will ensure the availability of a highly skilled and appropriately supervised paraeducator workforce. Assuring compliance with the intent and spirit of the federal legislative actions is not an easy task. Although there has been some progress in developing policies and standards to improve the performance of teacher and paraeducator teams since the passage of IDEA, 1997, in far too many situations these efforts have been piecemeal and have not led to infrastructures and policies that are integral parts of statewide systems of personnel development.
With the reauthorization of NCLB 2001, development of statewide standards that clearly define distinctions in teacher and paraeducator roles, identify knowledge and skill competencies for paraeductors, create standards, academic assessment instruments and other methods that enable paraeducators to demonstrate skill mastery is critical. As SEAs begin their efforts to address these and other issues connected with paraeducator preparation and supervision, these efforts are not always going forward systematically, and unfortunately many are being developed in isolation.
SEAs should not develop the standards and infrastructures alone. They need to work in concert with LEAs, IHEs, professional organizations, unions, parents and other stakeholders to establish standards for paraeducator roles, preparation, and supervision that reflect best practices. After that is accomplished, they need to move on and develop systems to ensure that the standards are met by providing pre- and in-service training for paraeducators, and that teacher education programs prepare graduates for their roles as planners of paraeducators assignments and directors and monitors of paraeducatorís day-to-day performance.
The lack of access to meaningful data and other information about paraeducator employment, roles, preparation and supervision within a state adversely affects the capacity of SEAs and their partners to improve the quality of paraeducator performance. It is the responsibility of SEAs to gather relevant data about all aspects of paraeducator employment in the various programs administered by LEAs and to maintain it in an accessible centralized database. When this is done, the different partners will have the information they need to make informed decisions about how best to address the needs of their state. Pickett (2003) has identified a series of issues that require the attention of SEAs working in concert with their partners, they include:
Administrators in SEAs and LEAs are confronted with many challenges as they continue their efforts to achieve higher performance standards for all learners. One of the most important strategies for meeting these challenges includes: 1) developing standards for paraeducator roles, preparation and supervision, and 2) embedding the standards in state rules or regulatory procedures. Incorporating the standards into the rules and procedures will ensure the creation and maintenance of infrastructures for delivering competency based paraeducator training and career advancement. Central to strengthening the performance of instructional teams is the need to prepare teachers to supervise and work effectively with paraeducators. To accomplish these goals, SEAs and LEAs must work in partnership with IHEs and other stakeholders. Establishing and nurturing these partnerships takes time and commitment. It is therefore, important for all partners to be willing to stay the course and complete the process of developing the standards and systems to strengthen the performance of teacher and paraeducator teams.
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The parameters for scopes of responsibilities for teachers and paraeducators as team members were developed by the National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals (NRCP) thru a grant of national significance funded by the Division of Personnel Preparation, Office of Personnel Preparation, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). Although OSEP funded the project, one of the primary goals was to identify the similarities in the responsibilities of teacher and paraeducator teams serving learners with diverse instructional and related services needs in early childhood settings, elementary, middle and secondary schools. The NRCP was assisted by a taskforce representing: SEAs. LEAs, professional organizations, two and four year IHEs, unions and parents. The proposed scopes of responsibilities developed by the taskforce and the standards for knowledge and skill competencies teachers and paraeducators required to carryout their responsibilities were validated and revised using a mail survey conducted among administrators in state and local education agencies, teachers, paraeducators, personnel developers in 2 and 4 year IHEs and other stakeholders The scopes of responsibilities for teachers are divided into six areas of responsibility. They along with standards for skill and knowledge competencies required by teachers to effectively lead instructional teams and supervise paraeducators are contained in: STRENGTHENING TEACHER/PROVIDER- PARAEDUCATOR TEAMS: GUIDELINES FOR PARAEDUCATOR ROLES, SUPERVISION AND PREPARATION (Pickett, 1999). The same publication contains scopes of responsibilities, knowledge and skill competencies, and performance indicators for paraeducators
RESPONSIBILITY 1: TEACHERS ARE LEADERS OF PROGRAM IMPLEMENTATION TEAMS WITH SUPERVISORY RESPONSIBILITY FOR PARAEDUCATORS.
The scope of responsibilities for teachers as supervisors of paraeducators includes:
RESPONSIBILITY 2: AS TEAM LEADERS, TEACHERS CREATE AND MAINTAIN LEARNER-CENTERED SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENTS
The scope of responsibilities for teachers in providing supportive learner-centered environments includes:
RESPONSIBILITY 3: AS TEAM LEADERS, TEACHERS PLAN AND ORGANIZE LEARNING EXPERIENCES.
The scope of responsibility for teachers for planning and organizing learning experiences includes:
Involving paraeducators in planning and organizing learning experiences based on paraeducator qualifications to carryout the tasks.
RESPONSIBILITY 4: AS TEAM LEADERS TEACHERS ENGAGE CHILDREN AND YOUTH IN LEARNING EXPERIENCES
The scope of responsibility for teachers for ensuring that children and youth are actively engaged in learning experiences includes:
RESPONSIBILITY 5: AS TEAM LEADERS, TEACHERS ASSESS LEARNER NEEDS, PROGRESS AND ACHIEVEMENTS.
The scope of responsibilities for teachers in the assessment process includes:
RESPONSIBILITY 6: AS TEAM LEADERS, TEACHERS PRACTICE STANDARDS OF PROFESSIOAL AND ETHICAL CONDUCT The scope of professional and ethical responsibilities for teachers connected with the supervision, evaluation and preparation of paraeducators includes:
The scopes of responsibilities for paraeducators as members of instructional teams developed by the NRCP project of national significance are divided into the same six theme areas as those for the teachers. The analysis of the validation survey, identified a common core of knowledge and skills required by all paraeducators. The common core of competencies serves as the basis for the scope of responsibilities for a level 1 paraeducator position. The scopes of responsibilities for the levels 2 and 3 paraeducator positions are based on analysis of paraeducator functions that require more complex knowledge and skills.
The level 2 scope of responsibilities applies to paraeducaots who work in pre-school, elementary, general and special education programs including self-contained and resource classrooms. For the most part these are paraeducators who work under the supervision of one teacher. The primary distinction in the responsibilities of levels 1 and 2 paraeducator positions is that greater emphasis is placed on the instructional functions of paraeducators in level 2. Moreover level 2 paraeducators participate in regularly scheduled on-the-job training sessions with teachers. And when required by learner needs or program requirements, level 2 paraeducators participate in IEP, ITP, and IFSP team planning meetings.
There are also several distinctions in the roles of levels 2 and 3 paraeducator positions. The first is that level 3 paraeducators, who facilitate inclusion of learners with disabilities into general education programs work along side of more than one teacher. The same is true for paraeducators who work in ESL/multi-lingual programs, transition services programs for learners who are moving from school to the adult world. Level 3 paraeducators who work in Title I, multi-lingual and special education programs may help teachers involve families in their childís learning experiences and activities. Level 3 paraeducators may have some discretionary authority to modify learning activities developed by teachers. Level 3 paraeducators may if appropriately prepared administered standardized tests. And because state and local policies connected with documenting and maintaining learner records are becoming more demanding and time consuming level 3 paraeducators may assist with these activities (Pickett, 1999).
RESPONSIBILITY 1: PARAEDUCATORS ASSIST TEACHERS WITH BUILDING AND MAINTINING EFFECTIVE TEAMS.
The scope of responsibilities for level 1 paraeducators includes;
The scope of responsibilities for level 2 paraeducators includes the responsibilities of level 1 paraeducators, plus:
The scope of responsibilities for level 3 paraeducators includes the responsibilities of level 2 paraeducators plus:
RESPONSIBILITY 2: PARAEDUCATORS ASSIST TEACHERS WITH MAINTAINING LEARNER-CENTERED SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENTS.
The scopes of responsibilities for level 1 paraeducators includes:
The scope of responsibilities for level 2 paraeducators includes all of the responsibilities for level 1 paraeducators.
LEVEL 3 The scope of responsponsibilities for level 3 paraeducators includes all of the responsibilities for level 1 and 2 paraeducators, plus:
RESPONSIBILITY 3: PARAEDUCATORS ASSIST TEACHERS WITH PLANNING AND ORGANIZING LEARNING EXPERIENCES.
The scope of responsibilities for level 1 paraeducators includes:
The scope of responsibilities for level 2 paraeducators includes all of the responsibilities for level 1 paraeducators, plus:
The scope of responsibilities for level 3 paraeducators includes the responsibilities for level 1 and 2, plus:
RESPONSIBILITY 4: PARAEDUCATORS ASSIST TEACHERS WITH ENGAGING CHILDREN AND YOUTH IN LEARNING EXPERIENCE:
LEVEL 1 The scope of responsibilities for level 1 paraeducators includes:
The scope of responsibilities for level 2 paraeducators includes the responsibilities for level 1, plus:
The scope of responsibilities for level 3 paraeducators includes the responsibilities for levesl 1 and 2, plus:
RESPONSIBILITY 5: PARAEDUCATORS ASSIST TEACHERS WITH ASSESSING LEARNER NEEDS AND PROGRESS.
Level 1 paraeducators do not participate in assessment activities.
The scopes of responsibilities for level 2 paraeducators includes:
The scope of responsibilities for level 3 paraeducators includes the responsibilities for level 2, plus:
RESPONSIBILITY 6: PARAEDUCATORS MEET STANDARDS OF PROFESSIONAL AND ETHICAL CONDUCT.
LEVELS 1,2, and 3
The scope of responsibilities for levels 1, 2 and 3 paraeducators includes:
Information in this appendix is based on the results of the most recent NRCP survey and follow- up phone calls to chief state school officers. The survey was designed to answer questions about the following policy and systemic issues.)
STATES WITH CREDENTIALING SYSTEMS FOR PARAEDUCATORS
No two credentialing, certification, licensure, permit systems are alike. The only shared characteristic of the systems is that all are non-binding on LEAs. Currently, with the exception of requiring a minimum of a high school diploma or GED for employment as a teacher aide, there is little consensus among states with a credentialing systems about what the components of a credential should be, let alone what the standards for paraeducator roles, skills and preparation should be. Moreover, the states that have established standards for paraeducator preparation that are not embedded in their rules or regulatory procedures have no way of requiring LEAs to provide training for paraeducators that meet the standards. The following are the states that currently have a certification system in place.
ALABAMA (in effect since the 1970s applies to all paraeducators, 30 clock hours of formal training are required, additional standards for knowledge and skills and training for special education paraeducators established.)
DELAWARE (original system established in 1970s, revised in 1993, applies to all paraeducators, recognizes three levels of paraeducator positions, includes guidelines for training.)
FLORIDA (legislation enacted in 1998, includes guidelines for an optional career ladder, applies to all paraeducators.)
GEORGIA (two year licensure system applies to all paraeducators and includes guidelines for employment; LEAs are required to provide 30 clock hours of in-service training for tier 1 teacher aide; and 50 clock hours for tier 2 paraprofessionals, renewable after 3 years upon completion of 50 additional clock hours.)
ILLINOIS (in effect since the 1970s. applies to all paraeducators, LEAs are required to provide in-service training that is approved by the state superintendent).
IOWA (established in 2000, two levels of paraeducator certification apply to all paraeducators, Level 1 is a generalist certification and requires completion of at least 90 clock hours of training, and level 2 requires paraeducators to have an associate degree or have 62 hours at an IHE, all level 2 paraeducators must complete two semester hours of coursework involving at least 100 hours of supervised practicum.)
KANSAS (established in the mid 1970s, applies to special education paraeducators only, 3 tiered system with standards for advancement based on training that recognizes both in-service training and an AA degree or a combination of both.)
MAINE (recognizes three levels of education technician positions; tied to in-service and post secondary education, applies to all paraeducators).
NORTH CAROLINA (established by the NC Department of Labor in 2001, the credential contains standards for the employment and preparation of all paraeducators.)
NEW HAMPSHIRE (in effect since early 1970s, recently revised applies to all instructional paraeducators; a 3 three-tier system that requires LEAs to provide orientation training for level 1 paraeducators, and additional training to enable paraeducators to advance to levels 2 & 3.)
NEW MEXICO (a four tier licensing process was approved in 1990 for teacher aides, assistants, and OT & PT aides.)
NEW YORK (includes certification for teacher aides who must meet civil service requirements and four levels of teacher assistants beginning with a provisional license, advancement to higher levels based on in-service training and completion of post secondary requirements).
OHIO (recently revised, applies to all paraeducators, requires high school diploma, includes a suggested career ladder, training is non specific and not competency based.)
OKLAHOMA (in the process of establishing standards for a certification system that was created in response to legislation enacted in 1999; statndards for training andcertification for paraeducators working in special education programs for learners with severe and profound disabilities have been in place for several years,)
TEXAS (in effect since the early 1980s, applies to all paraeducators, local options for employment and training standards prevail).
WEST VIRGINIA (a licensure mechanism includes standards for training established for a Paraprofessional position; Paraprofessional employees are allowed to work more independently than teacher aides and assistants; there are no standards for training teacher aides and assistants.)
STATES WITH STANDARDS FOR PARAEDUCATOR ROLES AND PREPARATION
The knowledge and skill standards developed by most of the following states are designed to serve as non-binding guidelines for LEAs to follow as they develop training opportunities for paraeducators.
ARKANSAS (standards for special education paraeducator training have been established)
HAWAII (knowledge and skills for a three tiered training program, initially developed for special education paraeducators in response to a court ordered consent decree have now been expanded to accommodate Title I paraeducators; Orientation and Intermediate (levels 1 & 2) training is provided by the SEA; the Advanced (third level) is provided by community colleges in collaboration with the SEA.)
IDAHO (knowledge and skill standards established in 2001 for special education and Title I paraeducators were developed jointly by the two divisions in the SEA.)
MARYLAND (knowledge and skill standards established for all paraeducators.)
MICHIGAN (standards for paraeducators in early childhood have been established.)
MINNESOTA (SEA developed knowledge and skill standards for special education paraeducators in 1997, state legislation enacted in 1998 requires LEAs to ensure that paraeducators employed in special education have sufficient skill to perform their assigned tasks, and to provide training opportunities annually.)
MONTANA (training standards based on identified skills and knowledge required by special education paraeducators, and the SEA supports regional training opportunities.)
RHODE ISLAND (knowledge and skill standards for paraeducators established for special education and ESL/bilingual paraeducators were established by the SEA in 1998 and 1999.)
SOUTH CAROLINA (SEA has established standards for special education paraeducator skill and knowledge competencies.)
UTAH (established standards for special education paraeducator roles and preparation have been approved; work is currently underway to revise the skill and knowledge competencies to apply to Title I paraeducators as well.)
VERMONT (standards for special education paraeducator knowledge and skill competencies approved by State Board of Education in 2001 and have been incorporated in the stateís rules for special education; the certification system that applied to all paraeducators established in the 1970s is no longer recognized.)
WASHINGTON (core knowledge and skill competencies established for all paraeducators; community colleges have developed standards and a curriculum based on the core